Freedom and Fluffy White Dogs.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
Covid-19 just seems to keep insinuating its way into our communities, eh. Just when I thought we were seeing an end to the restrictions of the pandemic, the second wave has hit and we’re seeing a rise in infections and a bit of a ‘dialing back’ of the loosening of our restrictions.
And with every limit placed on our lives to keep us safe and stop the vulnerable people in our society from getting sick and dying, we have a whole bunch of people standing up and shouting about our freedoms being tromped on. The biggest issue seems to be masks.
I can tell you outright that I don’t like wearing masks. I haven’t yet figured out how to stop my glasses from fogging up. No matter what kind of mask I wear its uncomfortable; I don’t feel like I breathe freely, nor do I even see properly. But, I get that me wearing a mask might mean that I keep someone else safe – and considering who I have most of my contact with – I’m keeping you, my Bethel peeps safe. I love you guys, and I don’t want to lose any of you because I find a mask uncomfortable.
So, I wonder what “freedom” actually means to people who refuse to wear masks. Now, I need to make a qualifier here: there ARE people who can’t wear a mask. There are medical conditions that make having to breathe through a layer of fabric or paper nearly impossible, and yes, these people do need to be out of their homes; medical appointments and the purchasing of basic necessities still go on, and we have all been encouraged to get out of doors and exercise for our own mental health. These are the people that need ME to wear my mask at all times. I also need to tell you that it angers me that there are people who say they have a medical exemption from the wearing of a mask simply because they can claim this and get away with not being compliant with mask regulations. These people are making a choice to put those most vulnerable at risk. And just because they’re a bit uncomfortable.
Let me see if I can come at things from a different direction. All of you know that I have my two fluffy white dogs, Tex and Gabby. Tex and Gabby are rescues. They came to us as adult dogs that were sick and really scared. One of the things we found out really early on is that they had no idea how to walk on leashes, nor did they even really know what it meant to be have other doggy friends in the neighbourhood. Both dogs, at 3 and 5 pounds respectively, whenever they saw another dog, regardless of its size, would lunge at it barking, teeth bared (or in Tex’s case, who has no teeth, gums bared), ready to rumble for control of the sidewalk. These are two dogs we can never let go to the off leash dog park; in fact, when they are anywhere outside of our fenced backyard, both dogs are on harnesses and leashes at all times. They don’t like the harnesses and the leashes. But, this is the only way that we can keep them safe, keep other dogs safe, and frankly, when we first got them, keep other people safe, because both dogs would equally charge at strange people. If we didn’t have leashes and harnesses for these two pups, then frankly they wouldn’t be able to live in our home, and likely would have been euthanized before they were rescued. Their freedom relies on our safety measures.
And, in just the same way, our social freedom relies on our social safety measures.
In the scripture that I quoted from the Book of John, Jesus begins by saying “if you continue in my Word, then you are my disciples, and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”. I just want you see the direction of the words here:
Continue in God’s Word ->Being a Disciple -> knowing Truth ->Freedom.
You see, it doesn’t begin with freedom, right! It begins with following God and being a Disciple. Following God, meaning that we begin by loving our neighbour. Being a disciple that means we ‘Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly’ (Micah 6:8). Knowing the Truth that its not about us, but instead is about Love. That’s when freedom comes. That’s when we are freed from ourselves – or freed from ‘sin’ as our scriptures say.
So, my friends – wear your mask and realize that freedom and life sometimes come in our own symbolic harnesses and leashes. (and maybe loving our fluffy white dogs).
Blessings today and remember you are Loved.